The Honda Ridgeline is one of the most innovative pickups on the market but are your hard-earned dollars better spent on new or used.
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More than 15 years ago the 2005 Honda Ridgeline arrived on the scene as a pickup truck aimed at those who were considering a transition from smaller vehicles into a pickup truck. To woo those buyers it rolled out one innovative feature after another like a dual-action tailgate, an in-bed audio system, an in-bed trunk, and a huge cabin to accommodate passengers. By 2018, the truck was just into its second generation and featured a whole new style and swagger. For 2021, it has all-wheel-drive standard, new exterior styling, and a new infotainment system. We stack these trucks up against one another to determine which one is the better value proposition right now, a used Honda Ridgeline or a new one?
Both of these pickups are part of the same generation of the Ridgeline that was introduced in 2017. With that said, they both come with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower. Past that, they get different quickly. The used Honda Ridgeline model from 2018 uses a six-speed automatic transmission and sends power to either the front wheels or all four.
For 2021, the Ridgeline is only sold with all-wheel-drive and uses a more sophisticated nine-speed automatic. That ends up leading to efficiency ratings of 21 or 22 mpg depending on the configuration. The new truck sticks to just 21 mpg considering it only has a single configuration. Brand new Honda Ridgelines are going from roughly $38,000 to $45,000 while used Honda Ridgeline models we’re comparing will range between $23,000 and $44,000 depending on mileage, condition, and trim level.
Both of these Honda Ridgelines benefit from the more road-focused independent suspension that rivals don’t have. It gives this Honda perhaps the best on-road performance in the sector. It also helps to have the same unibody construction as most cars and SUVs. No matter what kind of conditions the road ahead may be made up of, the Ridgeline tackles it with aplomb. Body roll and road noise are also far below the average full-sized truck. Turn-in is outstanding and overall the Ridgeline provides excellent steering feedback in all situations. Braking is impressive too with near sedan quickness and responsiveness.
If the Honda Ridgeline could use any help it’s in the overall power department, but even then it’s above average. The single powertrain is only strained when trying to tow somewhere near the maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. Aside from that, the biggest difference between these trucks is the transmission and the inclusion of all-wheel-drive as standard in 2021. To that end, the used Honda Ridgeline isn’t as smooth as the new one and can sometimes suffer from a hint of torque steer when accelerating hard from a stop. Overall though, they’re both excellent drivers that only seem average when the road runs out or they’re hauling a great deal of weight.
Step inside of either Honda Ridgeline and it’s easy to see where Honda leveraged its design. These pickup trucks are downright cavernous inside. The seating is comfortable throughout and is highly adjustable in the front. By 2021, all Ridgelines get tri-zone automatic climate control, and all but the base get it in the used 2018 models. It’s highly effective too. It heats and cools very quickly and all but the highest fan settings are nice and quiet. Road noise is all but non-existent which is another welcome experience in a truck of this size.
Perhaps the biggest changes are to the technology side of the equation where the new Honda Ridgeline features the best infotainment system this truck has ever seen. Finally, it has a physical volume knob. That might seem like an obvious touch, but it’s been absent until now, including in the used Honda Ridgeline we’re comparing. In fact, for once we’d say that the base infotainment system in the used Honda Ridgeline from 2018 would be the one to have simply because it’s easier to use.
The 2018 Honda Ridgeline was available in six trim levels including RT, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E, and the Black Edition. At the bottom of the lineup, the RT comes with front-wheel-drive, 18-inch wheels, a 4.2-inch driver information screen, a tow hitch, and cruise control. The Sport gets remote-start, Sport-specific wheels, fog lights, and keyless entry. The RTL gets some luxury features like power-adjustable leather front seats that are heated and can be optioned with all-wheel-drive as well. Above that, the RTL-T gets LED DRLs, an upgraded infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as seven speakers, and blind-spot monitoring. At the RTL-E trim level, buyers will be getting all the bells and whistles including LED cargo lights in the bed, a premium audio system, LED headlights, a heated steering wheel, and advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, and automated emergency braking. The Black Edition is practically identical as a used Honda Ridgeline RTL-E, but adds black trim and wheels.
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline only features four trim levels since it axed the RT and the RTL-T. With that in mind, the Sport starts out with a bunch of excellent equipment including advanced safety features, LED headlights, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, seven speakers, keyless entry. The RTL gets leather heated and power-adjustable front seats, a sunroof, and a power sliding rear window. Above that, buyers will find the RTL-E with the same upgraded sound system it had in 2018, LED ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel, navigation, and a wireless charging station. Again, much like 2018, the 2021 Black Edition is basically an RTL-E with a bunch of black trim.
2021 Honda Ridgeline – automobiles.honda.com | Shop Honda Ridgeline on Carsforsale.com
No matter which way it gets framed, the new Honda Ridgeline is the truck to buy. Both are capable, comfortable, and competent, but the new pickup is just so much more featureful. Add to that standard all-wheel-drive, advanced safety features, and more rugged looks and it’s impossible to ignore the extra value there.